FT217: “If you want to know what it was like living under an absolute monarchy just think of the IRS.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 11th, 2014

Fundamental Truth

Thomas Jefferson wanted to keep the New Federal Government and Money Apart

Thomas Jefferson did not trust government.  And he didn’t trust moneyed men.  Because when the two come together they cause nothing but trouble.  That’s why he hated and distrusted Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton wanted a strong central government.  A central bank.  And an economic system favoring merchants and bankers.  With big city moneyed men financing the government in return for special favors.

This is why the nation’s capital isn’t in New York City.  It once was.  But one of the first deals the Hamilton and Jefferson camps made was the relocation of the nation’s capital to a mosquito-infested swamp on the Potomac River.  A long, long way from the moneyed men in New York City.  To try to keep the new federal government and money apart.  To restrict the influence of the moneyed men on the government.  And to prevent the government from having easy access to big money.

Why did Jefferson want to do this?  Well, they fought for their independence from Great Britain.  Which was a constitutional monarchy.  Where some in Parliament were no friends of British America.  And got the king to agree with them rather than the pro-British America faction in Parliament.  Ironically, the Americans got help in their War of Independence from France.  Which had an absolute monarchy.  Whose king ruled with no check on his power.  Both governments were in the big cities.  London.  And Paris.  Where the moneyed men were.  In the big cities.  Allowing these monarchies to do a whole lot of mischief all around the world.  And a fair amount of mischief inside their own countries.  Because the money and the government were in the same city.

Government + Money = Corruption

Great Britain and France were forever at war with each other.  And with other countries.  Requiring a lot of money.  Which they got from the moneyed men.  In return for special privileges that allowed them to get ever richer.  Of course the mischief grew greater as they fought a world war or two.  Requiring ever more money.  Which they got from, of course, taxing the rest of the people.  Even those who could little afford it.  And once this starts, once the government starts accumulating debt, that taxation will only get greater.

This is what Jefferson was worried about.  And why he so distrusted Hamilton.  The Founding Fathers were all gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  Disinterested public servants.  Honorable men who would never take advantage of their position in government for personal gain.  Because for these men honor was everything.  Some even fought duels to protect their honor.  As Hamilton did.  And died.  Washington, Adams, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Jay and Franklin were men of exceptional integrity.  Men who could be trusted.  But here is where Hamilton and Jefferson differed.  Hamilton believed only men like them would ever enter government.  While Jefferson believed that government service would one day attract mostly scoundrels and knaves.

Of course, Jefferson was right.  For as the nation grew so did the size of government.  And the need for great big piles of money.  Which the moneyed men provided.  In exchange for special privileges.  Patronage.  Lucrative government contracts.  Etc.  Big piles of money flowed into Washington.  And favors flowed out from Washington.  With many a politician getting rich in the process of getting rich moneyed men richer.  Politicians who used their position in government for personal gain.  Corrupted politicians.  As government + money = corruption.  Which is why politicians always leave office richer than when they entered office.

Power + Corruption = Tyranny

This is how it started.  As the size of government grew corruption grew.  Just as Jefferson feared.  All that money flowing into Washington corrupted ever more politicians.  Who were not gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  But the scoundrels and knaves Jefferson knew would come.  Who used their position in government for personal gain.  Whose corruption grew so great it exploded federal spending.  So great that taxes from the moneyed men AND the middle class were unable to fund it.  So the taxation grew more aggressive.

The government created by the Founding Fathers had no income taxes.  They funded the few things the new national government did with tariffs for the most part.  People lived from day to day without any fear of the taxman.  The United States even did away with debtors’ prison.  Prison where people were sent who could not pay their debts.  A relic of the 19th century.  Sort of.  For there is one debt people can still go to prison for not paying.  Past-due taxes.  For the IRS can take everything you have and imprison you if you don’t pay your taxes.  And those taxes have grown great as of late.  As the tax code has grown convoluted.  Requiring businesses to hire armies of accountants and lawyers to comply with.  So the government can help the moneyed men who help the government.  In return for special privileges, of course.  Leaving the masses dreading April 15.  As they dread opening any letter from the IRS.

If you want to know what it was like living under an absolute monarchy just think of the IRS.  People fear the IRS.  Just as people feared the arbitrary power of an absolute monarchy.  A king could take your property and lock you away.  Just like the IRS.  And if you spoke out against the monarchy the king could make your life really unpleasant.  Just like the IRS.  During the 2012 election the IRS targeted conservative political groups to stifle their free speech.  Delayed their tax-exempt status approval.  And harassed them with costly tax audits.  And now their tyranny has extended to people in the middle class.  Who unbeknownst to them had a family member owe the federal government.  Years earlier.  Even a generation earlier.  And the IRS is arbitrarily seizing the tax refunds from these debtors’ distant relatives to pay these debts.  Even though they are in no way responsible for these debts.  And the government has no documentation for this debt.  Doesn’t matter.  Because they have the power to do this.  And these people are powerless to stop them.  Just like people living under an absolute monarchy were powerless to stop their king from doing anything to them.  And this is what Jefferson feared.  For after corruption comes tyranny.  For power + corruption = tyranny.  (Just look at every tin-pot dictator that has oppressed his people).  Which is why people fear the IRS.  And the federal government the IRS is beholden to.  Because they have become everything Jefferson feared they would.

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The Soft Tyranny of National Health Care

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 14th, 2013

Politics 101

Nazis and Communists acquired Power by Promising their People a Generous Welfare State

Adolf Hitler did not tell the German people that he wanted to wage world war.  Install an oppressive police state.  Or commit genocide.  Joseph Stalin did not tell the Russian people that he wanted to install an oppressive police state.  Starve millions of his people to death.  Or export communist revolution around the world.  Fidel Castro did not tell the Cuban people that he would make life so unbearable for them that they would rather risk dying in the ocean to reach America than staying in Cuba.

These dictators did not say these things.  And if anyone ever asked them of their true intentions they lied.  Especially to their people.  They lied about wanting to brutally oppress their people so they could expand their power.  Instead they told them they were going to take care of the people.  Unlike the evil capitalists.  Hitler’s National Socialism was going to give the people everything they could possibly want.  A job.  Mandatory vacations.  And national health care.  A person would be a fool not to want to give Hitler more power as he was going to make their lives so much better.  Freer.  And more pleasant.  Like a welfare state is supposed to be.

The communist promised that there would be no bourgeoisies exploiting the working man.  Instead everyone would be equal.  A utopia where everyone was each other’s brother.  Or comrade.  There would be no private property.  The people would own everything.  And there would be national health care.  This is the communist utopia Stalin promised his people.  And what Castro promised his people.  Neither meant it.  As no communist dictator meant it.  But by promising the people these things they were able to acquire power.  And the more power they acquired the more the people suffered.  This is why dictators and dictator wannabes lie.  To get the people to give them things the people would never give them if they told the truth.

The Affordable Care Act is a Pathway to the Soft Tyranny of National Health Care

The American left has always wanted the Holy Grail of the socialist state.  National health care.  For it gives them massive power.  As a person’s health is the most important thing in their life.  And once dependent on the state for their health care there is no new tax they won’t approve.  If it’s for their health.  This is why the left wants national health care.  This is why all dictators give their people national health care.  It makes people dependent on government.  And it makes people fear their government.  For if the government doesn’t get what it wants they could withhold health care.  Which could result in their death.

Now the Hitlers, Stalins and the Castros of the world don’t need to withhold health care to kill their people.  Their people feared them because they know their leaders could kill them outright.  The kind of thing that just doesn’t happen in Western democracies.  Which is what makes national health care so attractive.  For it offers a soft tyranny.  For you heard the left’s dire predictions of what would happen if the Republicans shut down the government.  But national health care?  Imagine the fear they could put into the people the next time the Republicans talked about tax cuts. 

The Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) is a pathway to this soft tyranny.  National health care.  While Canada and the United Kingdom struggle under the weight of their state health care systems the American left thought long and carefully of how to bring that same failed system to the American people.  With the health care industry totaling one-sixth of the U.S. economy that was just too great a tax hike to impose on the American people.  Even Democrats would be reluctant to impose such high taxes on people they needed to vote for them.  So they couldn’t go that route.  At least, not yet.

President Obama breaks the Law Again as he Tells Insurers they can still Sell Policies the People Liked

There is one thing standing in their way.  The private health insurance industry.  For with this there is an alternative to massive new taxes.  Which makes massive new taxes politically unattractive.  So they have to destroy the private health insurance industry first.  By lying to them.  Teasing them with government mandates that will give the health insurers a lucrative windfall of business.  While actually sealing their demise.

If you like your health insurance plan you can keep it.  Period.  That was the big lie.  Because you can’t.  Secretary Sebelius quickly wrote out the grandfather clause in the Affordable Care Act.  Especially for the individual market.  Where a lot of young and healthy people had only catastrophic policies.  Because they are young and healthy.  If the government was going to mandate the insurers pay for everything under the sun from free birth control to senior care they needed these young and healthy to lose their current policies and replace them with more costly policies with higher deductibles.  Basically forcing them to pay for costly health insurance but never using it because of those high deductibles.  Which transferred the cost of senior care to the young and healthy.  Something the young and healthy would never have been onboard with if the Democrats had told the truth.  Which is why the Democrats lied to them.

With the implementation of Obamacare the lies have become real.  They’re touching people’s lives.  And not in a good way.  Millions of individual policy holders are losing their insurance.  And those with employer-provided insurance will start losing theirs next year.  They’d be feeling the pain today but President Obama broke the law and ordered his administration not to enforce the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act.  Giving the employers a year reprieve until they, too, have to drop their non-compliant health insurance policies.  But being caught in the lie the year before the 2014 midterm elections has caused the president and the Democrats a lot of heartburn.  So much that the president is once again breaking the law.  And telling health insurers that they can still offer the health insurance policies the people liked.  When it is virtually impossible for them to do.  For they spent 3 years preparing for Obamacare and calculating insurance premiums based on the mandates bringing in enough money in premiums to pay for everything under the sun they now must cover. 

If they reinstate the old ‘substandard’ policies the young and healthy will buy these instead of buying the more costly Obamacare policies.  While the old and sick will buy the far more generous Obamacare policies.  Which will be a bargain for them as they will consume far more health care dollars than they pay in premiums.  But without the young and healthy subsidizing these policies the insurers will go bankrupt quickly as their benefits paid will far exceed their premiums collected.  Forcing them to increase their premiums to pay for the higher than expected benefits paid.  Until health insurance is so costly no one is buying it.  Putting them out of business.  So they can’t do this and hope to remain in business.  And, therefore, they will not reinstate the old ‘substandard’ policies.  Which is what the president wants.  For he gets to blame the insurers.  While accelerating the demise of the private health insurance industry.  By bankrupting them as planned.  AND getting the people to hate them even more.  A win-win for the Obama administration.  As they lie that they care about the people they are harming to expand their power.  Just like every other tyrant and tin-pot dictator has done throughout history.

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Tyranny of the One, Tyranny of the Few, Tyranny of the Many, Drone Strikes and the Rand Paul Filibuster

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 7th, 2013

Politics 101

Trusting that only Good People will Serve in Government is Sheer Folly

History has been a struggle for power.  Those who wanted it fought those who had it.  And those who had it tried to eliminate anyone who didn’t have it but wanted it.  So people have killed each other since the dawn of time for power.  Making for a rather Hobbesian existence.  “Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  A quote from Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.  Where he posits that only an all powerful dictator can provide a just society.  Otherwise there would be great unrest and civil wars.  Such as was going on in England at the time he wrote Leviathan.

England, though, would choose a non-Hobbesian path.  Choosing to restrict the powers of their monarch with a represented body of the people.  Parliament.  Evolving into what John Adams once called the best system of government.  A constitutional monarchy where power was balanced between the few, the many and the one.  The few, the rich, paid the taxes that the one, the king, spent.  The common people were the many.  Who had a say in what the rich and the king could do.  So everyone had a say.  And no one group, the majority, the minority or the one, could do whatever they wanted.  Which is why John Adams once thought it was the best system of government.

John Adams wanted a strong executive in the new United States.  Not a hereditary king.  But something close to the king of England.  Who would advance the new nation to greatness.  And with disinterested men of the Enlightenment serving in the new government Adams didn’t worry about any abuses of power.  For this wasn’t Great Britain.  But not everyone had Adams’ confidence in the nobility of men.  Worrying that given the chance they would try to form a new nobility.  As James Madison said in Federalist 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”  And that was the problem.  Men are not angels.  And trusting that only good men would serve in government was sheer folly.  So we should form governments under the assumption that bad people would reach positions of power.  And thus limit the power of government.

Today both Houses of Congress win Elections by Appealing to Populism

So the Americans settled on a similar system.  They separated powers between a legislature, an executive and a judiciary.  Further, they separated the legislature into two bodies.  The House of Representatives.  And the Senate.  Representation in the House being apportioned by population.  The more populous a state the greater that state’s representation.  And the greater influence they had in writing law.  They chose their representatives by popular vote.  Making it truly the house of the people.

The states, though, feared a tyranny of the majority.  Where the largest states could have their way.  And force the smaller states to accept their rule.  For in a true democracy the majority could vote anything into law.  Such as the subjugation and oppression of a minority group.  Like the Nazi Party passed legislation subjugating and oppressing the Jews.  So minorities need protection from majorities.  In the United States the Senate provided a check on majority rule.  For each state had equal representation.  Each state had two senators.  And to further protect the interests of the states (and their sovereignty) the states chose their senators.  A constitutional amendment changed this later.  Which weakened the sovereignty of the states.  By making the Senate a true democracy.  Where the people could vote for the senators that promised them the most from the treasury.

Today both houses of Congress win elections by appealing to populism.  Representatives and Senators are, in general, no longer ‘disinterested men of the Enlightenment’ but pure politicians trying to buy votes.  Which is what James Madison worried about.  The people in government are not angels.  And they’re becoming less like angels as time goes on.  Proving the need of a separation of powers.  And a bicameral legislature.  To keep any one group, or person, from amassing too much power.  So there can be no tyranny of the many.  No tyranny of the few.  And no tyranny of the one.

The Obama Administration can’t use the Military to Kill Suspect Americans on U.S. Soil

Senator Rand Paul just recently completed a 13 hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate.  To delay the vote to confirm John Brennan as CIA director.  Not because he had a problem with Brennan.  But because he had a problem with the Obama administration.  Specifically with Attorney General Eric Holder.  Senator Paul had asked Holder if the Obama administration could use a drone to kill an American on American soil without due process even if that person posed no imminent threat.  The attorney general gave his answer in a letter.  In which he didn’t say ‘no’.  Which bothered Senator Paul.  Because the Obama administration had killed an American or two on foreign soil without due process.  Including the son of a guy that posed an imminent threat.  While the son did not.

U.S. drone strikes have killed many terrorists overseas.  And they’ve killed a lot of innocent bystanders who had the misfortune to be in the same vicinity.  Such as being in the same coffee shop.  Basically a policy of ‘kill them all and let God sort them out’.  But you don’t hear a lot about this collateral damage.  As the Obama administration simply counts all the dead from a drone strike as being a terrorist that posed an imminent threat to U.S. security.  And the innocent son that was killed in a drone strike?  Well, he should have chosen a better father.  Or so said a member of the Obama administration.  Which is what so bothered Senator Paul.  For in the War on Terror the battlefield is worldwide.  Including the United States.  Which means given the right set of circumstances the Attorney General of the United States stated the government had the legal right to use a drone to kill an American on U.S. soil without due process.

In the United States there is a thing called the Constitution.  Which guarantees American citizens due process.  If you’re an American fighting Americans on foreign soil you have no Constitutional protections.  And can be killed by a drone strike without due process.  But if you’re on U.S. soil you have Constitutional protections.  Which means the government can’t use the military to kill suspect Americans.  No.  On U.S. soil we have police forces.  And courts.  Miranda rights.  On U.S. soil you have to convince a judge to issue an arrest warrant.  Then you have to collect evidence to present in a trial.  And then you have to convince a jury of a person’s guilt.  Then and only then can you take away a person’s freedom.  Or life.  Thus protecting all Americans from the tyranny of the one.  The tyranny of the few.  And the tyranny of the many.

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Continental Army, Continental Congress, Inflation, Wage & Price Controls, Paper Money, Specie, IOUs, Impressment and Repudiation

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 3rd, 2012

Politics 101

The Articles of Confederation made the United States of America a Confederacy of Sovereign States that had Little Power to Raise Revenue

By the time the Continental Army left Valley Forge they could hold their own against the British Army.  The British couldn’t push them around any longer.  They became so good that they fought the war to a standstill.  They came close to some major wins on the field of battle.  But close didn’t diminish the staying power of the British Army.  And they stayed.  On the battlefield.  And in their cities.  Dragging the conflict out for a total of 8 years.  And no matter what era of warfare you use to measure war-years 8 years of war is very costly.  Someone has to pay for it.  And, ultimately, it’s the people.  Either through taxation.  Or the loss of wealth through inflation.  Or simply the loss of wealth through the losing of your stuff.  And going without.  Because the army fighting for your liberty had no choice but to take what was yours.

This made the Revolutionary War unlike other wars.  For this war was about liberty.  Property rights.  The tyranny of a distant power.  And unjust taxation.  In other words this war was against all the things that made fighting a war possible.  You can’t really draft men to fight in a country that stands for liberty.  You just can’t confiscate the things you need to wage war from your people in a country built upon the principle of property rights.  You can’t declare martial law and suspend the rule of law on people you deem not to be patriotic enough in supporting the cause when you’re fighting the tyranny of a distant power that does.  (Even the Americans gave British soldiers a fair trial for the Boston Massacre).  And taxes?  The people that dumped tea into Boston Harbor over the principle of no taxation for revenue purposes without representation in Parliament was not going to be able to tax their people on a federal level.  Which proved a big obstacle in paying for the war to win their liberty.

The Articles of Confederation made the United States of America a confederacy of sovereign states.  And those sovereign states held the real power.  Virginia.  Massachusetts.  Pennsylvania.  New York.  And the other 9 sovereign states.  Not the United States of America.  That confederation that was waging war against the mightiest power in the world.  Which made raising funds difficult.  For without the power to levy taxes all they could do was ask.  Just like George Washington did all of the time.  Especially during that horrible winter at Valley Forge when his army was naked and starving.  He asked the Continental Congress for provisions.  And the Continental Congress asked the several states for their apportioned funds raised by their state legislatures.  Per the Articles of Confederation.  If they didn’t pay these funds timely or in full (or at all) they could ask again.  And that’s all they could do.  Which is why George Washington’s army suffered through that horrible winter.  Because the funds weren’t there to buy Washington the provisions his army needed.

Thanks to Inflation the Continental Army often had No Choice but to Take what they Needed from the People they were Fighting For 

The Americans never had enough money.  Which makes it amazing that they held off losing for 8 years.  Eight very costly years.  And won.  Especially considering how bad the economy was during the war.  Unable to tax or get sufficient loans from Europe they had little choice but to print money.  Which caused a whole lot of trouble.  For the more money they printed and put into circulation the more the value of their currency fell.  And soon a Continental was “not worth a Continental.”  And when the currency lost its value it took more of it to buy things.  Which led to price inflation.  The price of material and parts grew so high that it increased the cost of American manufactured muskets over the cost of imported French muskets.  Which they had to bring in through a British blockade.  Giving what should have been a cost advantage to the Americans.  Had it not been for the inflation.

To try and keep prices under control they implemented wage and price controls.  Which didn’t work.  The continued devaluation of the currency forced sellers to raise their prices to cover their rising costs.  Forcing them to sell below their costs would just put them out of business.  Voluntarily.  Or involuntarily.  Creating shortages in the market place.  Some offered lower prices for specie (gold and silver coins).  You can’t print hard money (specie).  So it held its value.  Unlike the paper money.  So a little of specie went a long way compared to paper money.  Of course, this didn’t help their wage and price controls.  It just made the paper more worthless.  And raised prices further.

There was yet another ugly side to this sordid business.  High prices and shortages created opportunity to profit handsomely.  There was speculation and market manipulation (hoarding, cornering the market, etc.) to take advantage of those highly priced items that were in scare supply.  Further raising prices for the people.  And compounding the problems of provisioning the army.  Which infuriated the low-paid soldiers.  Who the Continental Congress paid in that worthless paper money.  Angry mobs arose to address this profiteering.  As well as new laws and enforcement.  But they helped little.  The army often had no choice but to take what they needed from the people they were fighting for.  Either outright.  Or in exchange for IOUs.   Promises that the Continental Congress of the United States of America would make good on.  Just as soon as the several states paid their apportioned funds raised by their state legislatures. 

If you Violate the Ideals you’re Fighting for while Fighting for those Ideals it can Complicate the Peace

Fighting for an ideal makes war complicated.  If you’re just a tyrannical dictator looking to rape and pillage it makes things easier.  You don’t have to worry about liberty.  Property rights.  Debt.  Or taxes.  In the short term.  Or the long term.  Which made the American Revolutionary War a very difficult war to fight.  Because at the heart of the United States of America were those ideals.  To win this war to grant liberty to the people required taking their liberty away.  A little.  To win this war to guarantee property rights you had to violate property rights.  A little.  To win this war against tyranny you had to use excessive force against your people.  A little.  To win this war to establish taxation only with representation caused the destruction or personal wealth.  A lot.  Through impressment (taking things from the people).  Borrowing from foreign countries.  Or through inflation.

When the French joined the Americans in 1778 inflation was already out of control.  They printed twice as many Continentals in 1778 as they did in the last three years combined.  And there was serious discussion about doing the unthinkable.  Repudiation.  To simply escape the inflation by escaping the currency.  To retire the bills from circulation.  At a fraction of their value.  And that’s what they did in 1780.  Issuing new currency based on specie for the old currency at a 40 to one ratio.  The states were to tax their people to raise the funds for the new currency.  So the people took a huge short-term loss.  For a stable long-term future.  Based on specie.  That they couldn’t inflate.  This hard money would come from in large part the Spanish and the French.  The Spanish in Cuba buying American flour with specie.  And French aid.  As well as their army and navy spending their hard money in the American economy.

Wars are costly.  And they are rarely nice.  Trying to make them nice can make them last longer.  Which will make them more costly.  Of course, if you violate the ideals you’re fighting for while fighting for those ideals it can complicate the peace.  Luckily, for the Americans, they won their peace.  Their allies, the French, were not so lucky in their revolution.  The French Revolution.  Fought less than a decade after the American Revolution came to a close.  And unlike the Americans the French peace that followed was a bloody one.  That would eventually replace the king they executed with an emperor.  Napoleon Bonaparte.  Who the Americans helped bring to power in part due to the crushing debt King Louis XVI incurred supporting the Americans in their revolution.

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LESSONS LEARNED #17: “The raison d’être of federalism is to keep big government small.” -Old Pithy.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 10th, 2010

ALEXANDER HAMILTON WAS a real bastard.  John Adams hated him.  Thomas Jefferson, too.  George Washington looked at him like a son.  Aaron Burr killed him.  Politics.  It can get ugly.

Hamilton’s father was having an affair with a married woman in a loveless marriage.  Fathered two children with her.  First James.  Then Alexander.  Both born on the British island of Nevis in the Caribbean.  His father then moved the family to the Danish island of St. Croix.  Shortly thereafter, Hamilton’s father abandoned his family.  Alexander was 10ish (there is some disagreement about his year of birth). 

At age 11ish, Alexander became a clerk at Cruger and Beekmen, an import-export firm.  There he learned about business and commerce.  People noticed his talent and ability.  Soon, they collected some money and sent him off to the American colonies for a college education.  Hamilton’s fondest memory of his childhood home was seeing St. Croix disappear into the horizon from the ship that delivered him to America.

Hamilton’s father did have some nobility in his lineage but he squandered it before it could do Alexander any good.  He was an illegitimate child (a real bastard).  His father abandoned him.  His mother died while he was young.  He had little but ability.  But that was enough to take him from St. Croix to the founding of a new nation.

Hamilton served in the Continental Army.  He served as General Washington’s aide-de-camp.  Hamilton was in the know as much as Washington.  His understanding of business, commerce and money made him acutely aware of the financial disarray of the Army.  And of the Continental Congress.  What he saw was a mess.

The Continental Congress was a weak central government.  It could not draft soldiers.  It could not impose taxes to pay her soldiers.  It could only ask the states for money to support the cause.  Contributions were few.  The congress tried printing money but the ensuing inflation just made things worse.  The Army would take supplies for subsistence and issue IOUs to the people they took them from.  The Congress would beg and borrow.  Most of her arms and hard currency came from France.  But they ran up a debt in the process with little prospect of repaying it.  Which made that begging and borrowing more difficult with each time they had to beg and borrow.

The army held together.  But it suffered.  Big time.  Washington would not forget that experience.  Or Hamilton.  Or the others who served.  For there was a unity in the Army.  Unlike there was in the confederation that supported the Army.

WARS ARE COSTLY.  And France fought a lot of them.  Especially with Great Britain.  She was helping the Americans in part to inflict some pain on her old nemesis.  And in the process perhaps regain some of what she lost to Great Britain in the New World.  You see, the British had just recently defeated the French in the French and Indian War (aka, the 7 Years War).  And she wanted her former possessions back.  But France was bleeding.  Strapped for cash, after Yorktown, she told the Americans not to expect any more French loans.

Wars are costly.  The fighting may have been over, but the debt remained.  The interest on the debt alone was crushing.  With the loss of a major creditor, America had to look elsewhere for money.  The Continental Congress’ Superintendent of Finance, the guy who had to find a way to pay these costs, Robert Morris, said they had to tax the Americans until it hurt they were so far in debt.  He put together a package of poll taxes, land taxes, an excise tax and tariffs.  The congress didn’t receive it very well.  Representation or not, Americans do not like taxes.  Of the proposed taxes, the congress only put the tariffs on imports before the states.

Rhode Island had a seaport.  Connecticut didn’t.  Rhode Island was charging tariffs on imports that passed through her state to other states.  Like to Connecticut.  Because they generated sufficient revenue from these tariffs, their farmers didn’t have to pay any taxes.  In other words, they could live tax free.  Because of circumstance, people in Rhode Island didn’t have to pay taxes.  Connecticut could pay their taxes for them.  Because of the Rhodes Island impost.  And the Robert Morris’ impost would take away that golden goose.

As the congress had no taxing authority, it would take a unanimous vote to implement the impost.  Twelve voted ‘yes’.  Rhode Island said ‘no’.  There would be no national tax.  ‘Liberty’ won.  And the nation teetered on the brink of financial ruin. 

DEFALTION FOLLOWED INFLATION.  When the British left, they took their trade and specie with them.  What trade remained lost the protection of the Royal Navy.  When money was cheap people borrowed.  With the money supply contracted, it was very difficult to repay that debt.  The Americans fell into a depression.  Farmers were in risk of losing the farm.  And debtors saw the moneymen as evil for expecting to get their money back.  The people demanded that their state governments do something.  And they did.

When the debtors became the majority in the state legislatures, they passed laws to unburden themselves from their obligations.  They passed moratoriums on the collection of debt (stay laws).  They allowed debtors to pay their debts in commodities in lieu of money (tender acts).  And they printed money.  The depression hit Rhode Island hard.  The debtors declared war on the creditors.  And threw property laws out the window.  Mob rule was in.  True democracy.  Rhode Island forced the creditors to accept depreciated paper money at face value.  Creditors, given no choice, had to accept pennies on the dollars owed.  No drawbacks to that, right?  Of course, you better pray you never, ever, need to borrow money again.  Funny thing about lenders.  If you don’t pay them back, they do stop lending.  The evil bastards.

Aristotle said history was cyclical.  It went from democracy to anarchy to tyranny.  Hamilton and James Madison, future enemies, agreed on this point.  A democracy is the death knell of liberty.  It is a sure road to the tyranny of the majority.  If you don’t honor written contracts, there can be no property rights.  Without property rights, no one is safe from arbitrary force.   Civilization degenerates to nature’s law where only the fittest and most powerful survive.  (In the social utopias of the Soviet Union and Communist China, where there were no property rights, the people’s government murdered millions of their people).

WINNING A WAR did not make a nation.  Before and after the Revolution, people thought in provincial terms.  Not as Americans.  Thomas Jefferson hated to be away from his country, Virginia.  Unless you served in the Continental Army, this is how you probably thought.  Once the common enemy was defeated, the states pursued their own interests.  (Technically speaking, they never stopped pursuing their own interests, even during the War).

In addition to all the other problems a weak Continental Congress was trying to resolve, states were fighting each other for land.  A localized war broke out between Pennsylvania and Connecticut over the Wyoming region in north east Pennsylvania.  And a region of New York was demanding their independence from that state.  Hamilton helped negotiate a peaceful solution and the confederacy admitted the new state, Vermont.

There were problems with the confederation.  And people were getting so giddy on liberty that that they were forgetting the fundamental that made it all possible.  Property rights.  States were moving closer to mob rule with no check on majority power.  And the smallest minorities held the legislation of the Confederate Congress (the Continental Congress renamed) hostage.  Land claims were pitting state against state with the Congress unable to do anything.  Meanwhile, her finances remained in shambles.  She had no credit in Europe.  And creditors wanted their money back. 

They were choosing sides.  And you can probably guess the sides.  Hamilton had no state allegiances, understood finance and capital, saw how an impotent congress was unable to support the Army during war, saw provincial interests hinder national progress and threaten civil war.  George Washington, Virginia’s greatest son, had long looked to the west and saw America’s future there.  Not Virginia’s future.  His war experience only confirmed what he believed.  America had a great future.  If they could only set aside their provincialism and sectional interests.  James Madison saw the tyranny of the majority in the Virginian State House first hand.  He liked partisanship.  He liked competing ideals debated.  He did not want to see a majority stampede their vision into law.

These were the nationalists.  Madison wanted a strong federal government to check the tyranny of the states.  Hamilton wanted to do away with the states altogether.  Washington wanted what was best for these several united states as a whole after so many labored for so long during the Revolutionary War.  Ultimately, he wanted to capitalize the ‘u’ and the’s’ in united states and make it a singular entity.

On the other side were many of the old 1776 patriots.  Many of who did not have any army experience.  Such as Thomas Jefferson.  In them, the Spirit of ’76 was alive and well.  The Revolutionary War was to free the states from the yoke of British oppression.  They remained provincials.  They did not spend up to 8 years in an army made up of soldiers from different states.  They had no sense of this nationalism.  They saw everything through the eyes of their state.  And a strong central government was just another yoke of oppression in their eyes.

THE ANSWER TO all of their concerns was federalism.  Shared sovereignty.  The states would give up a little.  And the new central government would take up a little.  The drafters of the Constitution set up a 3-branch government.  It included a bicameral legislature.  Membership in the House of Representatives would be proportional to a state’s population.  They would have power of the purse.  Including the authority to levy taxes.  In the Senate, each state would get 2 senators.  They would be chosen by the states’ legislatures (a constitutional amendment changed this to a popular vote).  This was to keep the spending of the House in check.  To prevent mob-rule.  And to check national power.  Each chamber would have to approve legislation for it to become law.  But each chamber did not need to have unanimous approval. 

That was in the legislature.  In the executive branch, the president would be head of state and execute the laws written by the legislature.  He would also conduct a uniform foreign policy.  The president could veto legislation to check the power of the legislature.  And the legislature could override the president’s veto to check the power of the president.  Where the law was in dispute, the judiciary would interpret the law and resolve the dispute.

At first glance, the people didn’t love the U.S. Constitution.  Those at the convention didn’t either, but they thought it was the best they could do.  To help the ratification process, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote a series of essays, subsequently published as the Federalist Papers making the case for ratification.  Those opposed wanted a Bill of Rights added.  Madison did not think one was necessary.  He feared listing rights would protect those rights only.  If they forgot to list a right, then government could say that it wasn’t a right.  He acquiesced, though, when it was the price to get the Virginian Baptists on board which would bring Virginia on board. 

Madison promised to add a Bill of Rights after ratification.  So the states ratified it.  And he did.  The final document fell between what the nationalists wanted and what the ‘states’ government’ people wanted. 

OVER THE FOLLOWING years, each side would interpret the document differently.  When Hamilton interpreted broadly to create a national bank, to assume the states’ debts and to fund the debt, the other side went ballistic.  Madison, the father of the Constitution, would join Jefferson in opposition.  For they believed the point of the constitution was to keep big government small.  Hamilton was interpreting the ‘necessary and proper’ clause of the Constitution to make government big.  Nasty, partisan politics ensued.  And continue to this day.

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LESSONS LEARNED #12: “Feminists will forgive misogyny if the misogynist is a self-proclaimed feminist.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 6th, 2010

MOST WHO CONSIDER themselves feminists aren’t very militant.  And most aren’t probably that hardcore on the ‘equal’ thing.  Men and women are different.  They know this.  And that’s okay.  Many feminists don’t mind when a man holds a door for them.  Or that they have to sit down to pee.  You don’t have to be a man.  You can enjoy your femininity and have a career.  No one says you can’t.  Well, almost no one.

There is a very loud, a very angry and a very militant group of feminists that beg to differ.  It’s not that big of a group.  It seems like it, but that’s just because they get some prime exposure.  In the entertainment industry.  Some media outlets.  And through some rich and powerful friends.

This group believes in absolute equality.  You don’t dare hold a door for them.  Or compliment them on their appearance.  And if you ever think about patting them on the fanny, just realize that you may lose that hand in the process.  And probably your two best friends as well.  Then they’ll say something like “how do you like me now, bitch” to the newly castrated man.

Don’t call them the fairer sex.  Or the weaker sex.  They don’t like it.  They can be crude in their speech for they eschew any preconceived notions of lady-like behavior.    They’ll drop the f-bomb at will and ask a guy how’s it hanging.  They like their behavior rough and coarse.  Just like a man’s.  Like I said, absolute equality.

THESE HARDCORE MILITANT feminists (HMFs) have one overriding concern.  And that is not to let anything interfere with their chosen career or profession.  Anything.  And they’ve had some successes.  Glass ceilings have been shattering and restraints on women’s advancement are falling.  Everywhere.  Everywhere but one.  The uterus.

The HMFs don’t just eschew lady-like behavior, they detest the biological tyranny of the female reproductive system.  The uterus has destroyed more careers than the exclusivity of any old boys club.  Pregnancy.  The scourge of unbridled advancement in the HMF’s world.  Bodily change.  Leaves of absence.  And the possibility that the temporary leave may become a permanent one.  Motherhood.  Children.  The very thought of it sickens them.  And infuriates them.  It just ain’t fair.

They fight this oppression with religious fervor.  And their vehicle is reproductive rights.  Abortion.  It is their holy grail.  They’ve fought long and hard to get it.  And, by god, they intend to keep it.  And they base their political world on it.

At least, that’s what one would surmise based on the historical evidence.

CONDOLEEZA RICE HAS had a remarkable career that set a lot of firsts.  She has an incredible resume and achieved everything on it on her own.  From her PhD in political science to the third most powerful position in the country, Secretary of State, and everything in between, she worked hard and advanced herself.  On pure merit.  Unlike Hillary Clinton whose rise to fame was courtesy of the coattails of a successful man.

You would think that between the two, feminists would hold up Rice as the ideal.  She made it in the man’s world.  Shattered ceilings.  Set records.  Was in fact more successful than most men.  Clinton had to go old school and rely on a successful marriage for political success.  But, of course, it is Clinton they hold up as the ideal.  Not Rice.  Why?

Clinton is a Democrat.  Rice is a Republican.  Clinton is pro-choice.  Rice is less so.  Though very religious, she is kind of libertarian when it comes to abortion.  She’s not pro on-demand abortion.  She believes there should be certain restrictions.  And that’s enough.  Between the two, Clinton supports abortion more.  So the HMFs hold her up as the ideal.

STAND BY YOUR man.  Not exactly a feminist dictate.  If a woman’s husband has a history of extramarital activity, few feminists would say to stand by that man.  They may say something like if he has a problem keeping it in his pants, then just cut it off.  For there are few things as hurtful and humiliating than infidelity.

Bill Clinton has apparently had a problem of keeping it in his pants.  There’ve been many accusations about many women.  The Clintons met all of these with righteous indignation.  His wife attributed them to political attacks from a vast right wing conspiracy.  And she stood by her man.  Even after the infamous blue dress.

Well, it turned out that at least one of the accusations were true.  Now, Bill Clinton was personable, but he was no George Clooney.  Or a Tom Jones.  Women weren’t throwing their panties at him.  He just wasn’t sexy.  So it wasn’t a passionate animal attraction.  No, it wasn’t that.  It was power.  He was the most powerful man in America.  And she was just a 20 something year old intern.  He was 50ish.  He took advantage of her awe of his power.  And stuck his penis in her mouth.  And a cigar tube in her vagina.  But it wasn’t a big deal.  Most men just joked about it.  Thought it was pretty cool.  As long it wasn’t their daughter’s mouth.  Or their daughter’s vagina.

MEN ARE PIGS.  It’s no secret.  So it’s no big shock that a lot of men were okay with a little oral sex in the Oval Office.  They look at the young women in their offices.  They talk about them.  What they would like to do with them.  Some go too far.  Abuse their position of power.  They make inappropriate remarks.  Inappropriate contact.  And then all hell breaks loose.  And rightly so.

Get a job today and you have to sit through compulsory sexual harassment training.  Before you start working.  Employers live in fear of sexual harassment.  If they don’t do enough to prevent it, or if they don’t act fast enough when it happens, the lawyers sue.  The lawyers sue even when they do.  It’s a minefield.  One misstep along the way and BOOM.  Lawsuit.  We will not tolerate any abuse of power.  Unless, of course, you’re president of the United States.

WHAT IS MISOGYNY?  A hatred of women.  Objectifying them for pleasure.  The attitude that women are good for only one thing.  Sex.  A misogynist may ‘love’ being with women, but he doesn’t necessarily want to be with them.  Talk to them.  Or see them still there the following morning.  And he may leave cab fare out so they won’t be there later that evening after he’s ‘done’ with them.  Think of Charlie Harper from the television show Two and a Half Men.

A man that habitually cheats on his wife is a misogynist.  He doesn’t respect his wife.  Or the women he’s fooling around with.  He’s just having a good time.  Using them.  To fulfill some animal desire.  Thinking with the little head.  Always.

JFK was fooling around.  Teddy, too.  Two women died as a result.  Marilyn Monroe committed suicide.  Did she want more than JFK was willing to give?  Did she kill herself because of this?  We’ll never know.  All that we know is that she had sex with JFK.  And that she was depressed.

Ted Kennedy was probably going to have sex with Mary Jo Kopechne when he accidentally drove off that bridge.  His pregnant wife was home in bed at the time.  Kennedy panicked and left Kopechne to die.  This may have dashed his presidential ambitions, but he remained in the Senate for another 40 years or so.  A stalwart liberal.  The HMFs stood by him.  And JFK (posthumously, of course).  Teddy was pro-choice.  And a Catholic.  Talk about a coup for feminism.  They loved this man.  And never abandoned him.  I mean, Catholicism is about as anti-abortion as you can get.  In another era, the church would have excommunicated Teddy for such blasphemy.

The feminists never abandoned Clinton, either.  Bill or Hillary.  Why?  They’re pro-choice.  And with them in power, the HMFs know abortion will stay a choice.  So they will forgive the misogyny.  It’s like a ‘get out of jail free’ card.  In their world, he just didn’t do anything that bad.  Unlike someone else.

SAY THE NAME and the invectives fly.  Sarah Palin.  My, how the Left hates her.  And the HMFs.  Here’s another successful career woman, too.  She earned everything herself.  Didn’t marry into anything.  Again, a feminist ideal they could hold up for all young girls to emulate.  But they hate her.  Why?

They hate Sarah Palin because she’s that 1950s mom AND a successful career woman.  That just ain’t supposed to happen.  Remember, having babies is the scourge of career advancement.  Add to that the fact that she didn’t abort her last pregnancy after already having had 4 children.  Compound that with the fact that she didn’t change her mind about abortion after finding out her last baby would be born with Down Syndrome. 

Palin makes a mockery of the HMFs version of feminism.  Babies destroy careers.  Ergo, to succeed in a career, you can’t have babies.  But, being in a modern, liberated age, accidents happen.  And no one should punish a career woman for doing anything more than a man did.  She should be able to keep her career.  And abortion lets her.  That’s the model.  And then along comes Palin and blows that model all to hell.

THERE ARE MANY more examples.  All with a common theme.  Misogyny is okay as long as you are a feminist.  You can do pretty much whatever you want.  They won’t attack you.  They will, though, if you are pro-life.  Even if you only ‘lean’ pro-life.  Because if you take away abortion, the biological tyranny of the female reproductive system will go on unchecked.  And absolute equality will be but a fleeting memory.

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